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LETTERS – We need more solidarity in sport to drive out racism

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Issue 2573
Washington Redskins players protest by kneeling during the national anthem earlier this month
Washington Redskins players protest by kneeling during the national anthem earlier this month (Pic: Keith Allison/Flickr)

The news that a large section of the England Women’s football team have rallied around manager Mark Sampson after allegations of racism is no surprise.

Leading female footballer Eniola Aluko had accused Sampson of racism. He has since been sacked following evidence of “inappropriate behaviour” in a previous role.

English football has long been marred by institutional racism, and the failure of some white players to show solidarity with their colleagues.

The Football Association (FA) paid Aluko around £80,000 to keep quiet after Sampson allegedly made Ebola “jokes” about Aluko’s Nigerian relatives. The FA’s subsequent “investigation” has been yet another whitewash. 

The media has seized upon the relative success of “the Lionesses” in order to give it a gloss of sporting equality.

Increased exposure for women’s sport is undoubtedly positive.

But we should be deeply angered by the selective way the media approaches oppression. 

Sport is a powerful measure of issues in wider society. When Billie Jean King won “the battle of the sexes”, it wasn’t just about tennis.

The late Brian Clough was an Irish signatory to the Anti Nazi League.

Today, NFL player Colin Kaepernick has been blacklisted for refusing to stand for the US national anthem. That serves to underline the impact of Black Lives Matter and the response of the US state. 

Aluko’s brave stand against racism should be applauded by all.

In the US, black players protesting at Kaepernick’s treatment have been kneeling during the anthem. Their white teammates have joined them.

Athletes and sportspeople in Britain should take heed. 

Tom Kay, North London

Why we must refuse fascists a platform

Geoff Bridges argues that “when racists are debated in public they often lose the argument” (Letters, 20 September).

He is right in that. Racists and those influenced by racism in the workplace should be argued with and their arguments shown to be false.

But fascists aren’t just racists. They uniquely seek to use the freedoms of democracy to crush all forms of workers’ organisation and all democratic freedoms.

A key point about fascism was made by Hitler himself.

He explained that “through our great demonstrations and mass rallies we instil in the minds of the little man that although he is a worm he is part of a mighty dragon”.

This is not a contest determined by rationality and debate. It is a struggle to deny the fascists the tools they require to recruit many thousands of despairing, broken individuals.

No platform was deployed historically and decisively at Cable Street in 1936 and in Lewisham in 1977. It is a necessary tool against the threat of fascist organisation.

John Lockwood, Leamington Spa

Don’t let cycling break the boycott of Israel

The three most significant cycle races are the “Grand Tours” of France (the Tour), Spain (the Vuelta) and Italy (the Giro).

In recent years the Tours have looked to spread their influence—and bring in more money—by starting events in neighbouring countries.

Last week this took an overtly political turn, as the Giro 2018 tour will start with three days in Israel.

For the Giro this brings money. For Israel it is a chance to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and normalise oppression of Palestinians.

As the Giro winds its way across Israel, there will be no pictures of cyclists going past the apartheid wall. 

The peloton will not be held up at checkpoints.

Activists, and those of us interested in cycling, need to organise to ensure that cycling does not become infamous for breaking the BDS boycott.

Michael Lavalette, Liverpool

Migrant workers have shown they can fight and win

This year’s TUC Congress was clear that migrants are not to blame for lower wages, unemployment or insecure jobs.

Union organisation is key to stopping our rulers dividing our side.

A number of years ago there was a dispute in a Leeds firm that employed a lot of Polish workers.

The union translated a leaflet about the dispute into Polish.

The Polish workers agreed to join the strike and bosses backed down before anyone walked out.

Cleaners at London’s Soas university also showed it is possible for migrant workers to fight and win.

Sally Kincaid, Leeds

Home Office is ‘barbaric’

There was an emotional meeting in Swansea last week following the tragic death of Eyob, an Ethiopian asylum seeker.

After his application to stay in Wales was rejected, he lost his accommodation and access to benefits.

His body was recovered from the Swansea Marina earlier this month.

Over 70 people attended the meeting.

The barbaric way the Home Office is treating asylum claims is driving people over the edge.

There was determination to support people who flee intolerable conditions only to find intolerable bureaucratic torment. 

Tim Evans, Swansea

Real sickness is the system

I’ve just been watching the classic BBC series, “I Claudius”.

In one scene, a character says that the mad emperor Caligula is “sick”. Another character replies, “It’s Rome that’s sick—Caligula is just a rash that it’s come out in.”

It struck me that the same could be said today. Capitalism is a sick system and Trump is a rash it’s come out in.

Phil Webster, Lancashire

This system is failing girls

What a disgrace that a quarter of teenage girls in Britain are depressed.

And no surprise that if they are poor, depression is more likely.

We need serious change to this system that is harming children.

Alison Wakefield, South Yorkshire

Catalans must choose future

The Catalan issue is people’s legitimate rights to decide their own future in democracy, facing repression from a party founded by Francoists.

Brian Cutts, On Twitter

Vietnam and Korea differ

The idea from Zara Lee (Letters, 13 September) that the Korean War and the Vietnamese liberation struggle were effectively identical is only true at a very superficial level.

The war in Korea was a result of competition between the great powers and could be turned off with a peace treaty.

Vietnam was divided by the peace treaty but the result wasn’t accepted by the mass of people.

Geoff Collier, West Yorkshire

Thumbs up to Philip K Dick

Philip K Dick (Socialist Worker, 13 September) was a master wordsmith!

A Scanner Darkly is the only sci fi novel that left me in emotional pieces.

Tim Nicholls, On Facebook

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